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Cuban Leader In Moscow Amid Raised Tensions With U.S.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel (file photo)
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel (file photo)

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has arrived in Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials in an effort to bolster ties, as the former Cold War allies both face raised tensions with Washington.

Diaz-Canel, who was named to his post this earlier year by his predecessor, Raul Castro, is to meet with Putin at the Kremlin on November 2 as part of his three-day visit.

The Cuban leader's visit comes at a time of increased tensions with the United States.

Under former President Barack Obama, Washington moved to normalize ties with Havana. But since taking office in January 2017, President Donald Trump has looked to reverse many of Obama's actions.

On November 1, the White House labeled Cuba -- along with Venezuela and Nicaragua -- the "troika of tyranny" and announced new financial sanctions against the three countries, which already have been subject to U.S.-imposed penalties.

Separately, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly rejected a U.S. resolution to criticize human rights violations in Cuba and instead condemned the U.S. economic embargo of the island nation of 11.5 million people.

Havana was considered a client state of Moscow during the Cold War, but ties weakened after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Russia was no longer able to provide financial support.

Cuba was run for 52 years by Raul Castro's brother, Fidel, who fostered close ties to the Soviet Union to counter U.S. influence. Fidel Castro died in 2016.

Putin visited Cuba in 2000 and 2014 as part of efforts to revive relations with the communist island nation that sits in the Caribbean just 145 kilometers of U.S. territory in the state of Florida.

Russian officials have recently signed contracts to modernize Cuban energy facilities and a metal factory. Russia and Cuba have also discussed expanding military ties.

Meanwhile, relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated to a post-Cold War low over issues including Russia's seizure of Crimea in March 2014, its role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, its alleged election meddling in the United States and Europe, and the poisoning of a Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain in March.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Interfax
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